Happy Birthday to my Dad, Harry V. Cress.
Today he would have been 99. He was a father who had severe PTSD from being imprisoned in a WW2 prison camp in Germany. So, at times , he was a difficult Dad. He worked all his life as an advertising man. But, he suffered from all the PTSD symptoms from what he thought was the good war, so he never reached out for help. He moved in with me in 1989, after he lost his house on the New Jersey coast to ” The perfect storm”. But, once I got him into the VA in Menlo Park, California, he lived with me and my family for 20 years and was the perfect great grandfather, grandfather, and father.
However, as a cautionary tale, I was first surrounded by a very supportive loving family as a caregiver and second was a geriatric care manager. I also had the full help of the VA and all their incredible GRECC services that covered all the medical care, caregivers, geriatric social workers to support me as a caregiver, as my Dad, as a PTSD survivor was 100% disabled. He was a happy independent person for 14 years making our family a three-generation web of real happiness and constant family celebrations as a living ” whole” family. But as he gradually aged, developed vascular dementia then cancer, dying at our home in 20o8
So, moving a parent in your home is not for everyone
Moving an aging parent in your home encompasses not just the present but perhaps 20-30 years in the future. It means accepting the parent as they are in the moment, which may be ambulatory, cognitively intact and independent but seeing they will be gradually affected by the decrements of aging.
What challenges do you face?
Your parent may have perfect vision now and because of macular degeneration need a great deal of support in mobility, eating, and all the activities and daily living in the future. They may eventually be bedbound or is the later stages of dementia. The geriatric care manager needs to discuss the move in terms of what the future may bring for the adult child caregiver and discuss whether they feel they can accept this increasing level of care, if they could face caregiver burnout, if there are financial assets to hire caregivers to assist them or should there is a plan that may move the older person eventually to a higher level of care when care needs to increase.
What are the answers?
The GCM can do a GCM caregiver assessment if care needs to be rendered when the parent moves in. This will help the adult child see their strengths, skills, and abilities needed to provide care. This might include their own medical issues preventing caregiver tasks like lifting and tasks that they find and tasks they find repulsive, like changing adult diapers. This assessment can include a care plan that recommends family caregiver solutions, like aging technology, social supports, formal supports, respite, and training.
At my Dad’s funeral, my daughter said, ” we thought we were saving him but is so many ways he saved us. So Happy Birthday Dad you saved all the love for you I might have missed. Thanks for that grace.